Gary Shapiro, CEO and President of the Consumer Technology Association, producers of CES, was in town at SXSW for CTA Innovation Policy Day, sharing insights from his New York Times bestseller, Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World’s Most Successful Businesses.
Geekazine had a chance to talk with Shapiro on the future of mobility and the timelines provided by Tesla’s Elon Musk and Waymo’s John Krafcik at the show, in which Musk said 18 months from now self-driving will encompass all modes and will be up to 200% safer than a person driving, and Krafcik said “It’s here now. It’s on public roads now,” as he showed off video of the first rides with no driver at the wheel in the Waymo Phoenix Early Rider Program. Krafcik also announced the program will be rolling out to other cities soon, including those in the Bay Area, and predicted that by 2028, all weather self-driving vehicles, that is the most advanced level of autonomy, Level 5, will be available widespread globally.
With autonomous vehicles and smart cities having a significant presence at CES this year, Shapiro, reflected on current autonomous activity and timelines.
“Most areas now the driver must be able to take over. In ideal driving conditions on highways, it’s the easy thing to do without weather and snow issues, but as you get to more complex city environments when you get to snow and ice and things like that, there’s still some hurdles. Google had to stop their experiments where they had their own employees behind the wheel because they found while they were supposed to be paying attention some of them were falling asleep, playing games. Once the car is doing everything fine it’s very difficult to stay focused. I always wonder how pilots do it when they’re in the air. The fact is if you’re not moving around and doing stuff it’s very easy to get totally distracted, but the fact is the technology is moving very,very quickly. Your mom will not be in a self-driving car where she does not have to takeover next year, I guarantee that but in the next 5 or 6 years she’ll probably have the option to buy one.”
Shapiro also noted coming legislation that might serve as an obstacle for autonomous commercial vehicles in the U.S., “There’s legislation that the House passed, that the Senate is considering, that says the states can do all these things except they exempted commercial vehicles and trucks because the Democrats in the Union said you know we want to save these jobs.”
When asked about displacement, Shapiro said:
“The history of tech from the harnessing of fire to development of the wheel to the printing press to electricity radio television, the computer, the internet itself, has displaced people from jobs but has always always created new jobs. And we will have new jobs here. Today we have a phenomenal job shortage. We have a job shortage of truckers, but we also have an aging population and we are cutting back on our unskilled immigration flow and frankly we have a lower birthrate, which means there’s not people to take care of older people and we’re living longer. so we need people in other jobs we need to train people, we also need people to do things and fix things, and we need to change our culture so that it’s not everybody has to get a four year degree or your’e a failure in this country, we have to follow Germany that does apprenticeship and treats technical people with equal respect to those who get college degrees.”
Video excerpts from Geekazine interview: